Inclusion happens when everyone has equal access to achieve more. Unfortunately, this is hard to implement, including in the workplace. Companies demand their employees to fulfill strict standards, but these demands have marginalized people with disabilities (PWDs) . PWDs are unfortunately, seen as risky people to hire because it is assumed that their impairments will make work responsibilities hard or even impossible for them to deal with. Usually, there is a lack of work processes put in place for PWDs to do their job properly, due to lack of technology and education.
A lack of confidence in hiring PWDs is problematic to a company’s sustainability. Not only are employers removing potential talent because of unfair judgment, but it can also allow discrimination to seep into the workplace culture. This very problem pushed Microsoft, the leading corporation in technological solutions, to launch the Microsoft Enabler Program in Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, which was discussed through a live stream.
Vivek Puthocode, Chief Partner of Microsoft of Asia Pacific, stated different reasons why inclusion should be important to companies. One, based on an Accenture study he cited, 45 companies who were leaders in inclusion and diversion policies outperformed their peers. Two, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025 and they want to work for employers who prioritize these values. Thus, it is advantageous for businesses to find solutions that make the workplace more accessible to PWDs
Andrea Della Mattea, President of Microsoft Asia Pacific, started the video by discussing the workplace’s responsibility to be inclusive to all people, even those who seem risky to hire because of their disadvantages. She states that there are 650 million people in the Asia Pacific living with some form of disability. Most people will deal with one at a point in their life, whether it’s permanent, temporary, or situational.
The word “accessibility” has different meanings for everyone, but most likely for the majority, it means building specific structures or following a set of compliance standards. While these actions are necessary, accessibility is more than that. It is supposed to be an experience that empowers everyone and, technology, particularly A.I. (artificial intelligence), can do that.
Through A.I, several advances in speech, vision, and language have benefited PWDs. Microsoft Enabler Program plans on using A.I. to help PWDs by providing 1) cloud and AI training for PWDs 2) accessibility education for employer partners 3) inclusive hiring from non-profit organizations supporting PWDs. All these components will result in PWDS having competitive skills vital to the job market.
With the launch of this program, more companies will be motivated to implement solutions which empower PWDs to achieve more.
To learn more about the Microsoft Enabler Program, check out this video under Microsoft APAC.